Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 18, 2013

Hello family!

How is everyone doing? Everyone has grown so much from what it looks like in the pictures. Happy (late) 16th Birthday to Colten! Congratulations on the 100% on the driving test. I was telling everyone about that after I found out. A lot of the Elders here were super impressed. Also Happy (late) 8th birthday to Klarie!! I am so excited for you! You are now 1/2 the age of Colten. 

Colten with his new Boston t shirt for his birthday  from Karee

Klarie with her new Boston shirt for her 8th birthday!

There have been some really great experiences here on the mission already, but I have the highlight. ELDER M. RUSSELL BALLARD CAME TO VISIT THE MISSION AND I SHOOK HIS HAND! He is such a humble man! We had a mission conference and he, Elder Craig Christiansen of the seventy, and Elder Matthew Eyring all spoke to us. It was wonderful! (I will probably be sending a copy of my several pages of notes just to save time now and because it was just so great! So look forward to that update)

I think that the only way to explain this past week is STRESSFUL! Both physically, mentally and emotionally. We had the transitioning period where Hna. Hildenbrand was trying to get packed up to go home while trying to explain things to me so that I could be ready to fully take over, while still keeping fully scheduled days. I am pretty sure Hna. Hildenbrand went home looking like what Elder Craig Christensen would call a FABULOUS missionary/dead tired! If you know me, change is kind of hard and so saying goodbye to my companion was really hard emotionally. Plus add the stress of being a trainer and I was what some people would call an emotional wreck...  ok so I wasn't that bad, but there were a few things that would make me tear up. One was a lesson with Maria and Margarita. A mother and a daughter who we have been teaching new member lessons to. Hna. Hildenbrand has been working with them for a long time and she loves them so much and they love her. It was hard for Hna. Hildenbrand to be spending that last evening with them. We had decided before that I was going to have to talk quite a bit. I shared a scripture (Alma 34:8 I believe) and talked about how it had effected me and then started to tear up. After the lesson and after we had left the house, Hna. Hildenbrand and I both started crying. I hadn't really noticed how much we had both grown since becoming companions. It was a tender moment and I am so glad we got to share it together.
Karee with new companion Hermana Hileman on right and her old companion, H. Hildenbrand
Hermana Hildenbrand, Karee, and new companion, Hermana Hileman

goofy picture at zone conference
zone conference before transfers

Found this on the sidewalk. Honest I didn't do it

Karee and Hermana Hileman at the Boston Temple

Hermana Hildenbrand getting ready to go out in the bad weather to play some volleyball at the church

The other stressful part was actually taking over. I have a new companion, her name is Hna. Hileman. She is from Colorado, but has been living in Hawaii (yea sweet!) for the last three years. She is super excited to be out in the mission field and will for sure stretch me and keep me working hard. It is a little stressful because I am still trying to figure things out myself, but we will learn together. This week we are actually fortunate enough to have an extra more experienced sister to be with us to help us get things under control. Hna. Figuredo (I am not sure if that is spelled correctly) will be leaving to go home in a week and a half so she is going to be going around helping me and other sisters who are training early (There were four of us total that were training after 5 weeks, I am the only language trainer, but our mission president shared that he was assigned to be a trainer after just three I have nothing to complain about.) Being a trainer doesn't make me any better or have any superiority I am just helping (trying) introduce different aspects of missionary work and teaching her how to apply them in what we do. Since I am still kind of new at it I will be learning too. 

Something that really touched me that Elder Ballard said was in the blessing he gave to all the missionaries and that was that our families would be blessed while we are serving. He also said that the twelve and the first presidency pray for us and our families every Thursday in temple. I knew that there are many prayers given by many around the world for the missionaries, the twelve and the first presidency are men called of God to serve and teach the people and have many responsibilities, yet they still take the time to remember the many young men and women who are serving as missionaries. Pretty neat. But think about our family. Soon there will be two of us serving (Calvin and I) but there is also Grandma and Grandpa in Sweden, Ben in Mexico and Lindsey in Japan!. How neat! I love the Gospel! I love serving! I love my family! And I know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and all of His children.

Love always,

Hna. Brown

March 13, 2013-Karee is a Trainer!

Note from Mom: Karee's brother, Calvin, just got his mission call to Brazil and will leave July 3, 2013. We are so proud of both of them and their desire to serve the Lord.

Calvin with his mission call envelope
At the airport before Karee left for her mission. Now we will have 2 missionaries out!

I past my month in the field! And has it really been 3 months? 3 months since I was at home, wearing normal clothes... 3 months since walmart!?! I didn't know how I would do without being able to have such close contact with friends and family, but I have been blessed to have letters from loved ones. 

In 3 months I have learned:
I can live without Walmart
I can wake up at 6 each morning without an alarm clock
The more I learn the more I learn I need to learn
I have learned quite a bit of Spanish, but not nearly enough
I know enough about relying on the Spirit that Heavenly Father trusts me enough to call me to be called as a trainer! WOAH WHAT!?!! 

I was so excited to get an email from Calvin (soon to be Elder Brown)! I had found out that in the letter from Kamber that I got last week that he had his papers in. I was so excited and couldn't wait to hear where he is called. I was so happy to read Calvin's letter that I started to cry. It is so crazy to think that he is actually going on a mission... and so soon! I can't wait for him! I am excited that he is going to be speaking Portuguese because I am really planning on learning it. I can already understand it for the most part, but like any language it won't do me any good unless I can say a few things to keep the conversation up. Speaking of languages... Spanish is coming along. I can understand most of what people say if I pay attention (it can be exhausting sometimes so I will occasionally tune out for a bit). There are still a few days that I walk into a lesson and have absolutely no idea what is going on! My companion (trainer) Hna. Hildenbrand is really great. She tries to give me that opportunities to teach. But that is so scary because she will just stop talking and look at me. Ahhh... then I kinda stutter and look at her begging her to not stop. Then I pray and take a breath and open my mouth. I need that because I need the opportunity to talk. I need to get used to it.... Because I AM TRAINING!!! Can you believe it? I just got here! So usually the training lasts 12 weeks. I have received only 5 of those 12 weeks!!! Now I am going to be taking over as senior companion and will be taking lead in lessons, phone calls, companionship planning prayers and lesson plans... everything! I do not feel ready and when I got the call from the president I kinda teared up. The elders had been telling me that it was going to happen and so did sister hildenbrand but I just didn't want to believe them. Then Saturday night as we were waiting for a bus to go home I got a call and President Packard said, "Sister Brown I am going to ask you to do something big something hard. Will you be willing to train?" Whoa!! I said yes, but inside I was thinking, "how can I do this? I don't feel comfortable doing this... the language, the doctrine, the great responsibility... everything" I went home and went to the closet... (that is my place to pour out my heart in prayer) I prayed and asked if this was really what I was supposed to be doing because I didn't think I could do it. I fasted the next day that I might be able to feel ready and that I will be able to do it. That whole day I felt at peace and calm like everything is going to work out. I am excited! I am going to be able to take over and let the people here know how much I really know... not that it is a lot, but I  have definitely held back a little bit. Now I am going to give it my absolute ALL! Heavenly Father knew that was what I needed to put it all in and try my hardest! So from now on I am going to be seeing a whole lot more miracles and hopefully most of them will be with the language... the language of the Spirit.

So this week didn't exactly go as planned. But as a missionaries we are constantly changing our plans and working with other people's plans. Isabel didn't make it to church.... at all, so she didn't actually get baptized on Colten's birthday. Sorry Colten. But that was a really fun day and I was thinking about you a lot. 

Tuesday: We visited Isabel's sister and brother in law at the hospital. They are from Florida, but they are here because it is better hospitals. We sang a song for him which he loved. He can't talk but he is so funny. He was making motions that his wife was talking too much. He always comments on how beautiful we are... the people are really good at saying things like that. We didn't have any appointments set up so we went around trying to find people on a list that we had been given from the zone leaders. Then we had dinner at the Matos family. A very typical Dominican dinner of rice and a meat, carrot and onion sauce, with potato salad (hispanic potato salad is really delicious).

Wednesday: We visited with an inactive member who we found last week named Nora. We dropped off a large print Libro de Mormon for Isabel so that she could try to read. It was super cold and we went around South Boston. We had an appointment but she "wasn't home" (even though we heard her hushing her barking dog) so we went to Panera to have some warm food. There we had a fun experience.... A man sitting at a table facing us typed something on his laptop and then turned it to us and walked away. It read "if interested type number here".... I was totally thrown off guard. After lunch we decided to find less actives in the area. We found an older man who hadn't been to church in years. The house smelt really strongly of smoke and we weren't sure what we were going to say, but he was very nice and we ended up talking about family history. He is the nephew of Levill Edwards... The one who the BYU stadium is named after. We also found Romalina and her daughter who haven't been to church since coming to the US. We had a delicious dinner with the Ramero family. They are so sweet and committed to help me with my spanish. They are a younger couple and are super strong in the gospel. They were married in the temple ( not many members here have even been to the temple) and he served a mission. I am excited to be working with them. Brother Ramero told me that my spanish is really cute because I pronounce my 's'. Most Dominicans don't.

Thursday: Sister Garcia planned a very amazing activity called the Life of Christ. It was so neat! The whole thing was based off of the life of Christ. We were blindfolded and were handed things as we listened to some music that talked about the life of Christ and the different things that He did. It was so nice... I bawled. The rest of the day I think we mostly planned for the next week.

Friday: We got snowed in. We went to the chapel and planned to play games and have dinner together. I ended up reading the Book of Mormon in spanish because I heard that it is one of the best ways to learn a language. So I will be doing a lot of that!

Saturday: We dropped of Finding Faith in Christ DVD at the hospital for Isabel's family then we visited a few people. Later we had a lesson and dinner with Maria and Margarita (very common names.. I feel like all families have at least one). It was very dominican too. Flan with lemon jello and strawberries for desert. Who would have known that those things go together? I ended up taking over in part of the lesson and shared Alma 34:8 a scripture that hna. Hiaglund shared with me before i left the MTC. It was really good. I might have teared up afterwards because i realized that sister hildenbrand is really leaving and I am going to be taking over like that more. Then on the way home we found out I was going to be training. Yay! 

Sunday: we had Church.. went to dinner with the lady who made me my first dinner and then went to Cambridge for a musical fireside put on by the missionaries. It was wonderful! President Packard and his two children sang duets and it was so wonderful! They are all so talented!

Monday: We had zone meeting and talked about member missionary work. We had lessons... lots of stop-bys and found some people had moved. We had dinner with a wonderful member missionary and we had such a great time!

Tuesday: We visited Isabel (we have decided to not talk about baptism because we feel like she felt like we were just pressuring her and we don't want that!), her sister and brother in law in the hospital, Martha, the Medina family, Nora, and had dinner with the Gomez family. We had to walk from the Gomez to Nora's in the rain. Hard rain! We were joking all the way. Sister Gomez fed us SO much! Rice and beans with a huge piece of Salmon... MOM I ATE SALMON! There was still some skin on it.. And I ate it all... ok not the skin part, but all the fish part. Are you proud of me?
Tomorrow I get my greenie! Wish me luck! I am planning to give her a green dinner.. Hopefully that works out great!

I love you... I need your prayers!

Love always,

Hna. Brown

Colten! Wow congrats on the test! Did you get your birthday package? Colten, I think that I would like you to drive that little blue car when I am gone! I know that you are responsible and that you will take care of things. So please feel free to drive it! I love you!

Mom, Thank you for all of those pictures! I laughed so hard with the Christmas pics... where was Calvin? Is he too old now for that? I love seeing the girls in those pictures! That's so crazy that you saw Joe! I think about him a lot because that is the only way I can remember a last name of a family in the ward. I hope everything works out for Calvin in going to California. Boots are doing great! I am going to try something new with my journal and hopefully it will help the letters to go better.

March 4, 2013-Letter to mission president

Karee's letter to her mission president. Each week, they have to write him and inform him of how things are going. Karee does a wonderful job of this. She is faithful.

Dear President,

You are too kind! I am glad you think I act like I have been here for a long time. I feel like a lost puppy sometimes. I am still not sure what I should do about the ward. They have a different culture and I am still trying to figure out how to help them realize that they really do need to go to church. Activity in this ward is a really big problem. This week we found two very less active and even lost members. It is so sad that they do not have the full blessings of the Gospel and yet they don't realize that they are missing out on anything. There are a few members who definitely understand what is going on, but getting the rest of the members to feel the same way.  Do you have any suggestions?
Yesterday I was able to see a member truly reach out to a member in need just like I would expect Christ to do. She constantly had her arm around this young woman who had been less active and was finally coming back. I guess her mom recently passed away. We are planning to visit with her and make sure she has some friends around her age to help her, but their aren't really any youth.... another thing we are going to be working on. We talked to two of the young women about having them come to a few visits with us and they sounded excited. I am hoping that we can get them excited about missionary work and maybe getting them to start inviting friends to activities. 

We had the opportunity to attend part of a birthday party for a child in the ward. The parents had invited a bunch of their friends and we were able to talk to them and got some information to follow up. But mostly we are going to start on the "what's next?" with these members. I am excited because I feel like if the members get involved they will work on their personal conversion as well. 

I am trying to receive revelation for the people and I feel like it really is a matter of listening and waiting on the Lord. I was really inspired by what you said at zone conference and I am working hard to give myself that 30 mins a day to talk with my Heavenly Father and really strive to listen. 

Something I have learned and continue to learn each week is that I am asked to do the work for a perfect man, Jesus Christ. I am not perfect and the more I try to learn how I can become better and more like Christ the more I realize I have so much to learn so much to grow. Yet the Atonement covers it all. And through Him, Jesus Christ, my Savior, I am able to do all and able to become more like Him. Everyday I learn of a way that I need to change to be more like Him. I feel like I am relying more and more on Him each day. 

Con amor,

Hna. Brown

March 4, 2013

Day of sight seeing at Fenway Park

Note from mom. Karee has one day a week where she does her laundry, writes her letters, does her shopping and can go and do a little sight seeing. It is called Preparation Day or P day for short. This was her companion's last P day before going home and they went and did a lot of sight seeing. As you can see her letter is very brief because they were out most of the day. They met up with some of the Elders and had lunch at a famous sub sandwich place.

Eating at Al Capone's Sub Shop

Dear family,

How are you? I was so happy this week to get a letter from Amanda Taylor (surprise!) , Katelyn, Kamber and mom... That card was so awesome! I showed everyone! It is so funny! Where did you ever find it? It is so true through! Today we spent the whole day wandering around downtown Boston... BITTER COLD!!! But because of this little adventure my email time is cut short... I will try sending as many pictures as I can. I had a great week I'll write more next week.

Love you all!!!

A thank you note for Kamber.. She sent me a cute little package.. I had a lot of fun with the Cheese-its as you will see in the next few pictures. My initials :)

This is me and Martha. She is from Cuba and has been living here for about 30 years I think. We found her name as a member that no one knew. In fact we were told that no one knew if she was actually alive because they hadn't seen her in years. I happened to write down her address and said I wanted to at least see if she was still alive. Come to find out she is! She was so happy to see us that she invited us back the next afternoon for pizza. She is so sweet But she talks really fast.
Sky line... old time church and new buildings. I have found a lot of these lately. I like the contrast.
We had to go to Fenway!
old time church and new buildings

Hermana Hildenbrand, Sister Garcia, Sis Wagoner, and Karee on a pier for P day(preparation day)
Karee and Tabitha Wagoner(Sis Wagoner) from Branson at the pier

random donkey with sister missionaries

Fenway Park

You are now a Boston Red Sox fan, Karee Brown   

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Week of February 25th, 2013

A picture of the sisters and Karee on her first subway ride. She said it was little scary, but they ride on it everywhere so she's feeling a bit better about it.


Wow what a eventful few days!! Has it really only been since Thursday that I last wrote?

We taught new member lessons to Maria and Margarita (16). WE taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ Lesson 3 in Preach My Gospel. We also shared 2 Nephi 31:15-21. Then we did a stop by to the Relief Society president, Hna. Reyes. We are going to be helping her and the presidency in helping the sisters of the ward to know how to visit teach and to understand why it is important. We also told her that we are willing to help visit less actives (which we kinda already do) and help them know that they are loved and missed by the ward. Then we went home and made ourselves dinner (it's nice to sometimes have to do this because we normally get fed sooo much food!)

We had district meeting after our studies and then we went to McDonald's for lunch. Hna. Hildenbrand and I always bring our lunch though :) we are staying healthy. Then we went to Martica's house (the one that I extended a baptismal invitation to last week) and we taught her and her daughter Ashley the first lesson about the restoration. Then we went to an investigator's house named Isabel. This was my first time meeting her. We were only going to drop off some CD's that have the Book of Mormon recorded on it because she has a hard time reading. Then we went out to eat with Sister Allen. She took us to a Vietnamese restaurant. It was soo good! I got a soup thing that I attempted to eat with can probably imagine how well that worked. We also got this honeydew melon smoothie that was delicious! I think that I like this kind of food! 

Wonderful day!!! ok so we started as usual with our studies that last from 8- 11 then we have lunch. Then we have another hour of training that I have because I am a new missionary. This is basically helping me understand better how to teach from Preach My Gospel. We had an appointment to meet with Isabel at 2, so we planned a long time for that lesson. We had talked a little with her the night before about how if she asked Heavenly Father sincerely with a specific question that he would give her an answer. So we invited her to pray that night to know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church. We then promised her that if she prayed sincerely and then she listened to a random cd, that she would receive her answer and that she would know what she needed to do. Pretty bold, but that is what we can do as missionaries. I can say that I prayed a whole lot that she would actually do what we challenged her to do and that she would be able to recognize the answer that Heavenly Father gave her. I also prayed that I would be able to understand her (something I need to do quite frequently) and that I might be able to say and add to the lesson while we were teaching. We decided that we needed to share 2 Nephi 25:4 which talks about how clarity in understanding.
So we went to her house, and when we walked in she was listening to the Book of Mormon. Then she started to tell us what happened the night before. She had prayed that night to know and felt the same. Like she didn't really receive an answer. Then she went to bed. She woke up at 3 in the morning and was not tired. She flipped through the CD's and found a random one and turned it on. It was Alma 4. As she listened she was thinking about the Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She said she felt good, calm and happy, then she started to think about the things that her friends have said about their churches. She said she started to feel confused again. But when chapter 5 started she stopped thinking about that and started listening more. It was talking about baptism. She said that she felt that peace and tranquility once again. As she listened to the verses she knew that baptism what the thing that she needed to do, it was the next step that she needed to take. She accepted the baptismal date of the 10th!! Colten's birthday! Sister Hildenbrand was so excited! Afterwards she was shouting for joy and smiling ear to ear! On our way to the bus stop some man yelled after us "beautiful, infectious SMiles!!!" haha
Later we had dinner with a member... but honestly we were floating on air the rest of the day! We have decided to visit Isabel everyday (even if we have to just call her) so that we keep up with her.
Hermana Hildenbrand and Karee saw a woman on the subway wearing her hair like this and had to go home and try it! love it!

We had ward conference which meant the Spanish group was in with the English. It was very interesting! Sister Hildenbrand and I couldn't stay for the whole time because we had to leave to go to her last area for a baptism. But let's just say that the music sounded very interesting because singing everyone was singing in their language. It sounded like no one knew what the words were. On the way to the baptism we met a man who knew a lot about the Church's welfare and self-reliant program because it "was the first and is the best in the world". He was a neat guy and we ended up getting his contact information for the elders in his area. I also happened to have an English Book of Mormon to share with him which he gladly accepted. The baptism was of a whole family and it was wonderful to witness. I loved the ward there already... hopefully I will get to go to Revere! 
We were supposed to have a snow storm starting on Saturday which would have probably canceled the baptism for the 3rd time. But we prayed along with many other missionaries and people, that it wouldnt snow. We were told anywhere from 3 inches to a foot or more. But Saturday it rained and when we woke up on Sunday it was still only snowing. It didn't start to snow until after the baptism ended at 3. That was a miracle and a half of which my companion greatly appreciated. She is going to be leaving in less than 3 weeks and she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to attend the baptism.  Pretty neat if you ask us

That's it for today.
I love you all! 
Hermana Brown
One of the members served Karee a green meal as when you are a new missionary you are called a greeny. Ha Ha!

Sister missionaries had gone shopping and Sister Wagoner(the one on the ground) had just tried to climb over a fence and fell.

week of Feb 12-21, 2013

Family and Friends,

Sorry it has been a while, the library was closed Monday, the internet didn't work Tuesday and we had an AMAZING Zone Conference yesterday. This shouldn't happen again, but just know that I am safe and that I am still having a wonderful time.

I have learned a whole lot about the Hispanic culture in general throughout my first full week here among the people.

#1. Eating is a big thing! If you go over to their house they are going to feed you and you have to eat it....ALL! Now of course there are a few exceptions because they have learned from other missionaries. They serve SOO much food! Most meals have some sort of rice. Also regarding the food part of the culture, if you are full and you liked the food but don't want to offend them, I need to say, "estoy satisfecha," or I am satisfied in stead of saying I am full. Because of this, and because of the generosity of the people, our side of the fridge is stocked full of left overs of all sorts. I have also definitely gained weight...not too excited about that, but I am trying to be polite. I have started to have green drinks (yummy!) in the morning for breakfast and make sure that I have a light lunch so that I have room for dinner.

Bro Malos serving fried plantain and fried salami. They are from Dominican Republic

#2. In greeting the women, we always kiss on the cheek and hug. It is different, but I like it. It is just an example of how welcoming they are and how accepting they are of me into their homes and lives.

Most aren't really used to such blonde hair. I had one person tell me that I looked like a doll. There is an elder in my ward who's name is Elder Rubio (meaning blonde) they love it! I was introduced to the ward as the blonde Brown and the elder as the brown Blonde.

Valentine's day party: Something you must first know is that with the Hispanic culture, starting time is not really a definite thing. So it was supposed to start at 7, but didn't start until 7:45. They made sure to introduce the missionaries to the ward and then they went around talking about why each couple loved each other. They fed us a salad, rice with beans, vegetables and chicken. Of course there was dancing, but we had to leave because it had started so late.

Those pictures that is the Boston temple.. it was just down the street from the chapel that we had transfer meeting in. My companion is Sister Hildenbrand. She is getting ready to go home actually...sad. The other Sister, is Sister Gomez. The first sister missionary called to the Boston mission to speak Portuguese! She is from Argentina, knows english, spanish, portuguese, and is learning french! She is amazing! She is 20 and is a ball of fire! ready to share the Gospel and encouraging people/ me all along the way. We assigned ourselves to each other for the travel and during our stay at the president's house. She is the one that made me realize I wanted to learn Portuguese.
Sis Wagoner and Sis Garcia making sandwiches at the church right after the snow storm Nemo.

The different types of food that we came up with. Basically all of us brought a bunch of random food that we had and we combined it all together. The meals lasted all Saturday and Sunday for breakfast and lunch. We ended up with some of the most random meals. Including the following: Macaroni noodles with spaghetti sauce, rice (definitely a staple around here), a crock pot enchillada thing, bagels, eggs, quesadillas, peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches, samon, garlic bread, a huge pot of top roman (I believe we put 10-12 packages of that), oatmeal... some oatmeal with hot chocolate and peanutbutter (basically no bake cookies!), melted snow...yes that was made by some elders, cookies, chips and salsa, and a bunch of other random food all set out to eat.
all the missionaries at the church after the big snow storm(Nemo) and the missionaries couldn't go out.

Sister Garcia and the snowman found along their shopping trip

This is Hna. Hildenbrand and I on my first Sunday here. We went to church wearing layers, boots, long coats and sweaters. We cleaned the whole chapel and then we changed and held a very small (14 missionaries) sacrament meeting. Everyone participated in some way or another. I was asked to give a talk on the Christlike attribute of charity.

This is a picture of Karee's lovely home. They live on the first floor. Most families in this area live in homes similar to this but they are three layered and three different families live in them.

Karee and her companion got heart attacked at their apartment

those who came to say goodbye to Karee as she left the MTC

Karee, Hermana Hildenbrand, Sister Wagoner, Sis Garcia in front of Boston Temple

 I got the package of love (valentines day package) on Valentine's day! IT was perfect! Cookies were wonderful! and treats! It was perfect thank you so very much!! I ended up wearing that shirt that next day to a valentine's day party.

Gota go! LOve you!
Hna. Brown